SHERIDAN — Bike MS Wyoming is moving to Sheridan this year, and local cyclist Anna Bailey couldn’t be more pleased.
Not only will she get to ride the roughly 180 miles the event calls for on her home turf, covering roads into the Bighorn Mountains that she knows and loves.
She’ll also get to help rally her friends, family and neighbors for an important cause: fundraising to help drive medical research for multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system that often causes fatigue and loss of balance, and can lead to more serious problems such as paralysis, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
“People love to jump in and help and that’s what I love about our community,” Bailey said. “It’s another reason that [my husband] Joel and I were so excited for it to be here: We knew that it would have a lot of support.”
The event will take place Aug. 13 and 14 and will be based at Sheridan College.
A personal connection
Bailey has been riding since she was a kid, loves the sport and had nothing but praise for the Bike MS Wyoming event, with its smooth organization, good food and positive atmosphere.
But she doesn’t just do it for fun.
Bailey’s brother-in-law, Jacob, was diagnosed with MS several years ago. He’s since benefited from the type of medical research that Bike MS helps fund. Jacob Bailey was able to participate in a trial treatment that has helped him stay healthy and active. He still plays ice hockey and coaches youth soccer.
Anna Bailey said that when the disease hits home, it spurs people to get more involved.
“It seems to be the people that know someone with MS have been our biggest supporters,” she said, speaking about her fundraising donors. “Because they know how their lives have been impacted and they want to help.”
Change of scene
Bike MS Wyoming was held in Sundance for more than 10 years, but organizers decided it was time for a change and Sheridan was a good next stop.
The annual two-day ride is just one such event that the NMSS hosts across the country each summer.
Folks will ride a loop from Sheridan to Buffalo the first day, with an optional detour up Red Grade Road that adds 19 miles. The second day’s route goes through Ranchester and Dayton, up into the Bighorns on a steep climb, and back.
They’ll stop for a catered lunch at some spot along the way, and after the first day, they’ll go back to their homes, hotel rooms or tents to get some much-needed rest.
Bailey said it can be tough to get back on the bike the second day, especially as saddle soreness sets in. But last year, after loosening up a bit, Bailey had one of her best rides on the second day — recording her fastest average speed ever.
The aid stations along the route are a good booster, with snacks, water, first aid and plenty of encouragement.
Getting it done
The mileage sounds tough, but Bailey encourages everyone who can bike 30 miles to give it a shot. That’s her dad’s advice: If you can ride 30, your heart, lungs and muscles are in shape to handle the longer distance.
“I would just encourage anyone that enjoys biking to give it a try,” Bailey said. “Because it’s not a race, it’s a ride. And it’s for a good cause.”
Bailey’s father will be flying in from Hawaii to do the ride with her. He’s 70 years old.
Registration is still open, and event organizers will even accept day-of registration. Participants must pay a registration fee and raise at least $300.
Bike MS Wyoming also needs volunteers for the event. For more information, contact Molly Palmer at 307-433-8664 or firstname.lastname@example.org.